NFL: Christian McCaffrey fails to save Carolina Panthers' blushes on return from injury
- Carolina Panthers went down 6-24 to New England Patriots on Sunday
- The Panthers had just 78 yards on offence throughout the game
- Christian McCaffrey had 14 carries and caught four passes for 54 yards
Star running back Christian McCaffrey, who returned to the Panthers lineup after over a month, failed to ignite a sluggish Carolina offence who went down 6-24 to New England Patriots on Sunday.
The Panthers had just 78 yards on offence throughout the game, while McCaffrey rushed for 52 of those. Coming after a five-game absence, McCaffrey had 14 carries and caught four passes for 54 yards in his return to the starting lineup.
Meanwhile, ahead of the game, quarterback Sam Darnold was also cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol and activated by the Panthers. But Darnold had another miserable outing for Carolina. He finished 16 of 33 for 172 yards with three picks, two of them by Jackson after the Panthers (4-5) reached the red zone. Darnold has been intercepted nine times and thrown only one touchdown in four career games against the Bill Belichick-coached Patriots.
Unlike two weeks ago, Panthers coach Matt Rhule didn't bench Darnold despite interceptions on three straight possessions in the second half. As has been the case for most of the year, Darnold spent most of the game under heavy duress after losing starting centre Matt Paradis and left tackle Cameron Erving to injuries in the first half.
Carolina's only point came courtesy of its defence, which forced two Mac Jones turnovers in New England territory in the first half — one off Brian Burns' sack-fumble and another when former Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore had an interception.
Meanwhile, in the third quarter, the Panthers reached the Patriots 20, but Darnold rolled out of the pocket on a second down play and overthrew tight end Ian Thomas. J.C. Jackson intercepted the ball and raced 88 yards down the middle of the field for a touchdown.
The Panthers will now face Arizona Cardinals next Sunday while the Patriots will host Cleveland Brown on the same day.
With inputs from the Associated Press